Meetings of Arab leaders over the years invariably produce initial sounds of determination to resolve critical issues only to produce nothing but the sounds of silent pessimism. Once again an Arab “summit meeting” is taking place in Damascus but most of the key players in the Arab world will not be present. Only 12 of the 22 delegates from Arab nations represent even someone at the foreign minister level which may signify growing disgust with Syria’s role in the Middle East. Syria is held responsible for the mess in Lebanon, not all agree with its policies of providing weapons to Hamas and Hizbullah, and the persecution of Sunni Muslims in Syria does not resound positively with many Muslim nations.
In an interview with Al-Ahram, Hesham Youssef, of the Arab League, agrees, “Yes, there are differences among Arab countries abut the issues of relations with the United States and Iran,” but all seek some way to resolve problems and avoid further military action. Everyone essentially agrees General Michel Suleiman should become president of Lebanon and end the current impasse, but things are blokced by disputes as to who has which powers in the Lebanon Cabinet.
There is no question Israel has repeatedly made blunders in its policies toward Palestinians, but they are aided in this inability to find common ground for peace by the ineptness of Arab leaders to curtail violence in the region. Unfortunately, Arab nations of the Middle East lack a personage of the stature of a Nelson Mandela who can assert leadership and move ahead toward peace. If Iran had a leader with vision, it might help, but that most probably will not occur in the immediate future. It may well be that Turkey offers the last opportunity for leadership in moving toward resolving issues within the region.